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How Ball Python Snakes Shed Skin

Updated on August 25, 2011

Several times a year, your snake will need to shed its skin. Snakes shed their entire skin as they grow; they shed more frequently as rapidly growing juveniles and shed less frequently as slower growing adults.

The shedding process in ball pythons normally takes about two weeks. In the early stages of the process, a ball python's belly will commonly begin to take on a pink hue. As the process progresses, the skin will become dull and the eyes will cloud over, turning a gray or blue color. The phrase "in the blue" comes from the blue appearance of the eyes as the snake prepares to shed. After a few more days, the eyes clear up. In another few days, the ball python begins to shed its skin. A good shed is usually defined as a shed in which all the skin has come off the snake. This can either be in one piece or in a few pieces. It is critical that all of the skin comes off. A bad shed occurs when skin is left on the ball python. This is a common sign of low humidity or possible dehydra­tion. You will need to remove any retained skin. Allowing the snake to repeatedly crawl through a warm, damp washcloth will help remove adhered skin.

Carefully check the eyes to make sure that no retained eye caps remain. Do not confuse a "cracked" or dented spectacle (the clear scale that covers the eye) with a retained eye cap. An eye that has a retained eye cap will have a slightly different appearance from the snake's other eye. On some retained eye caps, you'll notice a small piece of skin around the orbit of the eye. If your snake has a retained eye cap, use a damp cotton swab and gently rub this over the eye to remove the eye cap. You can also use a damp fingertip to carefully remove the eye cap from the eye by gently rubbing. Eye caps generally pop right off. If this does not work, you may need to take your snake to your local veterinarian to have the cap removed.

Just as retained eye caps can damage your snakes' eye, retained shed skin can damage its skin. Always check the tip of the tail for retained shed skin. This area is often overlooked, and sometimes a constricting band of shed skin builds up around the tip of the tail. When this is not corrected, the tip of the tail may die and fall off. Occasionally, skin may also remain stuck to the base of the spurs. Inspect these areas carefully after each shed. Be ready to carefully and gently remove any skin left on your snake to prevent it from causing problems.

If your ball python consistently has difficult sheds, make adjustments to the humidity in the cage; as well, you may wish to make your snake a shed box. This can be a container with a lid and a hole cut in the side that is large enough for your snake to pass through without difficulty. Make sure that all sharp edges have been filed off after you have cut the hole in the side of the container. Inside the box, place damp paper towels or damp sphagnum moss. Only use the box during the later stages of shedding, after the eyes have gone clear. Once the snake is done shed­ding, remove the box and thoroughly clean it out so that it will be ready to use the next time.


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    Nicole 5 years ago


    You need to take the snake to the vet asap. It sounds like it has a respiratory infection. Some pet smarts have vets that deal with reptiles. Call around. It will cost around 85. They might work with you on the price. Our ball just had all the same symptoms.

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    trey 6 years ago

    I have a female ball python that i just recently got,when i got her there was no humidity gauge moss instead of a bark ,a small wood stump with fake plants, a medium sized water dish, and a large heating pad. I'm pretty sure she had poor shedding's because mixed in with the moss was snake skin in bits and pieces, and im not sure if her eye has an eye cap on it or if its cracked, she has it on both though but the left on is worse than the right one. I don't have the money to go to the vet so do you have any other options? I also think she has a nasal problem cause she always wheezes when she breaths. But i don't want her to go blind so if no other option i will take her to the vet.

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    Scott 6 years ago

    Darren are you feeding appropriate sized meals weekly? If the snake is eating and conditions (temp/humidity/viv size) are right it will shed when its ready, If its an adult they will shed less often due to the fact that growth rate slows right down as in humans, If you are concerned take her to the vets to check for parasites etc, take a fresh poo sample for analysis.

    Hope you find resolve and good luck with her.


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    Darren 6 years ago

    i have a corn snake i no its not a python but she hasn't shed since october and i don't know why i keep her viv at the righttemp and i bath her once a day.

    can you help me ?